Best of 2016 Awards

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We are back with our annual article where we highlight the best leather products that we have reviewed in the past year. We have crowned a winner and a runner up for various different categories.

2016 was full of awesome leather products and here at BestLeather we were able to get our hands on a large majority of these items. Based on the items that we have reviewed in 2016 we have put together the best for each category. This is a tradition that we have done for the past two years (2014 awards and 2015 awards) and we will continue to do this in the future. Without further ado, check out the best leather products of 2016 below and let us know what you think in the comment section.

Best Briefcases

Winner: Kendal & Hyde Classic Satchel

I’ve seen a lot of great messengers out there, but have yet to see one that matches Kendal & Hyde’s offerings in beautiful simplicity and thoughtful detail. “It’s been said that if you eliminate everything that is not essential you will end up with something that is.” This idea, found on one of Kendal & Hyde’s early Kickstarter pages, represents their designs well.

No design aspects are exclusively for aesthetic purposes–which creates a product that is not only hyper functional, but beautiful in its own class. The Kendal & Hyde Classic Satchel embodies these strengths with its tank-like laptop protection, clever design features, and 100% thick, custom concept, veg-tan leather construction. You can read the full review here

Runner Up: Korchmar Garfield Messenger

The Korchmar Garfield Messenger bag is a strong product we were even delighted to host a holiday giveaway for with Korchmar. Constructed of a semi-veg tanned leather with canvas lining, this turned out to be an ideal setup for those wishing to carry a lot of documents, electronics or large laptops.

Equipped with multiple pockets for organization and a beautiful design, this bad is perfect for those searching for a tech-friendly work briefcase. While the giveaway has concluded, you can check out the full review here.  

Best Backpack

Winner: Mission Mercantile Steamer Backpack

Combining the beauty of leather with the sort of swagger and lightweight benefits of waxed canvas, the Steamer Backpack from Mission Mercantile is our Best Backpack of 2016. Paying tribute to mail bags and steamer bags of the past, the backpack is built with heritage in mind. With that heritage came an eye-catching design and top-of-the-line materials. With space enough for a good overnight trip or a day in class/work, the capacity is fitting for all genders.

We were even able to coordinate a giveaway of this bag to one lucky reader, who no doubt appreciated the quality. If a lightweight and beautiful backpack is appealing to your tastes, you can check out the full review here.

Runner Up: Pad and Quill Roll Top Leather Backpack

It is hard to ignore items that just have “that look” when you see them that invites you in with curiosity. Pad and Quill’s Roll Top Leather backpack is no exception to this theory. Besides the enticing look of roll tops, the Roll Top Leather backpack is constructed of quality full grain leather, parachute grade thread, and quality hardware.

With adjustable shoulder straps, it can fit a wide variety of heights and proportions. The side zipper has proven especially useful for pulling out items that may have sunk to the bottom of the backpack. You can check out the full review here.

Best Boots

Winner: Dayton Boots Parade Boot

The Dayton Parade Boot is one of the highest quality boots currently on the market, and for good reason! They are made out of full grain leather and sewn together by hand with double and triple stitching and then finished off with being Goodyear welted. These boots will last you many years, if not decades. That’s how well they are put together. Not only do they perform well, but they also look very slick with the black leather which goes great with any outfit.

If you are looking to invest in some top notch boots that you plan to wear for the next 5-10 years then this should be your go-to. You can see our full review on these boots here.

Runner Up: Danner Mountain Pass

These Danner boots are constructed out of Horween’s Rio Latigo leather, which is a full-grain combination leather, and is finished with pigment-free aniline dye. Needless to say, these things are well constructed! If you are looking for a lightweight and modern update on a classic hiking boots then this is your option. You can read the full review here.

Best Shoes

Winner: Lems Nine2Five Coffee and Cream Shoes

Man, I love these shoes. I wear them nearly every day. They’re incredibly lightweight. They have a exceptionally thin sole with zero drop, so they keep your gait natural (your yoga instructor would be proud). They also have a wide toe box—meaning the shoes fit your feet instead of your feet having to conform to the shoe.

And most remarkably, they’re good looking, made from 1.6mm full-grain leather with a deep pull-up dye, that gives them shapely contours wherever the leather bends. If you’re a hippie or hipster who wants both natural and handsome, the Lems Nine2Fives are the shoe you’re looking for. (See full review.)

Runner Up: Crosby Square Findlay Shoes

With a thick leather outsole, stunning bordeaux color, and classic derby shape, the Crosby Square Findlay Shoes are gorgeous. Friends and even strangers have commented on their beautiful color and the classic brogue-style wingtip. They’re high-quality and no-nonsense, and it’s obvious that intense passion went into the design and production. See full review.

Best Belt

Winner: Hawkmoth Propeller

There was likely little doubt that Hawkmoth’s incomparable Propeller belt would take Best Of this year. I continue to wear this belt any chance I can, and it continues to mystify anyone who sees it. The rare oak bark tanned leather and hand dye has worn beautifully, managing to balance taking on character while never faltering in strength. The asymmetrical design, thick hand stitching, and bronze US Navy buckle exude style and history. Frankly, it’s challenging to describe how much I love this belt. Check out the full review of this belt here

Runner Up: Gray Bull Leather Co. Classic Leather Belt

Gray Bull’s Classic Leather Belt fills the belt need on the other end of the spectrum from Hawkmoth’s Propeller. There’s no frills, but there’s also little more you could ask for from a functional perspective: massively thick treated 10oz veg-tan leather, large sturdy buckle, chicago screws. Coloring and burnishing look great.This tank of a belt as a whole looks good, should last a lifetime, and comes in at a paltry $59. Full review can be found here.

Best Wallet

Winner: J. Michael Ashland Classic Bifold

The J. Michael Ashland Classic Bifold is a traditional bifold wallet lover’s dream. No frills, no gimmicks, just a traditional bifold offering solid construction and exceptional capacity. Using Horween leather that aids in the timeliness design and aesthetic, it is sure to be an upgrade to common bifolds. Whether for yourself or a special person in your life, the classic bifold is worth viewing the full review here.

Runner Up: Sandlot Goods Billfold

The Sandlot Goods Billfold is about as American as apple pie. Made in the United States from domestically sourced materials, this wallet hit the sweet spot with a solid recipe of quality materials, expert craftsmanship and a dose of Americana that made the Sandlot Goods Billfold an instant classic. See Full Review

Best Duffel

Winner: Moore and Giles Benedict Bison Weekend Bag

It’s hard to praise this bag enough. I feel spoiled every time I load it up. It’s a luxury I’m just not used to. What’s more, people always comment on it, and I love replying with, “It’s buffalo leather.” That always gets a little more astonishment out of them. It’s a big bag, with ample space for a weekend trip, yet not too cumbersome. It’s durable, with double seams and reinforced edges.

Best of all, it’s classy—easily the most beautiful leather piece you will own. And while the Moore and Giles Benedict Bison Weekend Bag is on the expensive side, it’s most definitely a product worth investing in. See full review.

Runner Up: Mission Mercantile Stateroom Weekender

Mission Mercantile continues to turn heads with their Stateroom Weekender, a great bag for the weekend whose construction takes no shortcuts. Constructed of full grain leather, it is relatively heavy, but with a presidential-esque style it is worth the compromise in weight. No cheap or breakable parts come on the Stateroom Weekender, and that’s how we like our Buy-It-For-Life rated products. For a bag you can toss around without worry of damage to it, check out the full review here.

Best Notebook Cover

Winner: Koch Leather Company Horween Field Notes Sleeve

Koch Leather Company’s take on a Field Notes Sleeve challenges the typical layout of field note covers while adding the ability to carry a pen as well as business cards or a small knife/flashlight. With various choices in Horween or Herman Oak leather and hand stitching, there leaves no question to whether the best materials available were chosen. You can check out the full review here.

Runner Up: Alstad Goods Carry

Entirely handmade to perfection of the finest caliber materials, Alstad Goods’ Carry is certainly worth honorable mention. While likely tougher than most other notebook covers, the Carry also exudes luxury. The pen closure comes in handy when you want to fill it up and keep everything in place. The full review can be found here

Best Leather Jacket

Winner: Satchel and Page Calfskin Cafe Racer Jacket

Satchel & Page does it again with their Cafe Racer Jacket. The pictures should do more than enough to convince you that this tailored design is stunning in its simplicity. Full grain French calfskin is beautiful, soft, and performs well in a range of environments. A leather jacket is an investment, but one worth making, and the Cafe Racer is a good option for anyone’s consideration. See the full review here.

Runner Up: Jaunji Designs Uptown Jacket in Lambskin

This jacket it beautiful. It has an elegance that makes it a good fit for very formal occasions, yet it also works well with a high-class casual. But the thing that really sold me was the wool lining—that so much care goes into the part no one ever sees. And you’ll find this same care in all of the craftsmanship. What’s more, these jackets are all custom fitted to each individual buyer—specifically to your body, which boosts the personal value all the more. The Jaunji Designs Uptown Jacket in Lambskin is a fine piece of leatherwork. Full review here.

Best Ladies Product

Winner: Tsonga Chefeza Amatista Sandals

Tsonga has created one of the best leather sandals on the market with their Chefeza Amatista model. They are crafted with full grain cobalt blue sheep leather that is incredibly soft which makes the sandals extremely comfortable to wear. Not only are they comfortable to wear, but the sandals also have a nice flare to them with the cobalt blue leather. If you’re looking for sandals that look great for any occasion and don’t hurt your feet after a few hours, then these Tsonga sandals are for you! You can read the full review here.

Runner Up: Hidesign Cerys Leather Multi-Compartment Tote

The Hidesign Cerys Tote was one of our favorite women’s products we had the chance to review this year on BestLeather. There is a lot to like with this full grain veg-tanned leather tote that is suitable for the office or just going out for the day. The inner lining of the tote is a bright blue cotton fabric that adds some pop to the bag as well. If this interests you, then you can read the full review of this tote here.

Best Accessory Product

Winner: Wallis Standard Leather Weightlifting Belt

This belt is awesome. It’s as tough as the iron you’ll be pumping—what with the high quality leather, the double stitching, and the metal buckle and brackets. It looks amazing too, not just because of the beautiful leather, but in the etching if you invest in getting it customized like I did.

This costs a little extra cash because it takes Garrott and Evan some extra time, but it adds a lot of personal value. I realize not everyone is in the market for a lifting belt, but if you are, the Wallis Standard Leather Weightlifting Belt is absolutely the one to get–whether you’re a CrossFit pro or one in the making. See full review.

Runner Up: J. Ryan & Co. Shaving Strop

For lovers of traditional wet shaving like myself, a quality strop is a must-have for those who have likened themselves to the shave offered by a straight razor. The J. Ryan & Co. Shaving strop reminds us that not all straps are created equal, and this one particularly is in a league of its own. You can read about how it differentiates itself from other straps by checking out the full review here.

Best Tech Product

Winner: 74Street Bags Multicamera Photographer Leather Harness

Carrying a standalone digital or film camera can sometimes be a pain in the neck, literally. 74Street Bags developed the Multicamera Photographer Leather Harness to reduce the strain placed on the body while carrying cameras, while also offering quick access to multiple camera rigs.

Suited for serious amateurs and professionals, the harness can be considered a grail among other camera straps. If you’re like me and haven’t abandoned dedicated cameras in favor of cellphones and tablets, this product is a must-have for those long photoshoot sessions. You can set down your cameras and check out the full review here.

Runner Up: Intrepid Bag Co. Leather Tech Roll

Simply put, the Leather Tech Roll form Intrepid Bag Co. is a must-have for tech-savy individuals who carry their electronics with them daily. Instead of digging around in your bag for cords, headphones, and other devices, the Tech Roll allows for organization and protection. While it can get bulky if you pack a lot of things, the same could be said for the mess you might create in a bag without an organized setup. For an alternative to digging for that extra flash drive, data bank, or phone charger, check out the full review here.

Most Innovative Product

Winner: Offene Meer Leather Co. Gun Deck Wallet

The Offene Meer Leather Company Gun Deck Wallet is a great choice, merging capacity suited for both traditional and minimalist carriers. Constructed of one piece of leather, this simple wallet uses a friction based closure as well as the ability to store priority cards in a front slot for quick access. This allows for the unpartitioned wallet with space for multiple cards and cash folded once.  The front slot paired with the unique single piece folded construction makes this our most innovative product. You can check out the full review here.

Runner Up: Andrews Leather Monarch Shoulder Rig and Holster

This shoulder rig feels good. It sits so naturally on your body that you’ll hardly notice you’re wearing it. What’s more, the lower back strap keeps it from flopping around while you’re on the move. Its design keeps functionality as the highest priority. And yet it looks incredibly good too—so good that Sam’s leather has been used in Hollywood blockbusters like the new Magnificent Seven and the latest Fast and Furious. If you own a handgun and are inclined toward adventure, the Andrews Leather Monarch Shoulder Rig and Holster is a must-have companion. And as I mentioned in the review, Sam, the creator, is from the old school, so you’ll want to make your order by phone here. See full review.

Thanks for Reading!

Thanks for checking our our awards for 2016. It was a great year and we are looking forward to another one in 2017. If you are a leather company that wants to have a chance of having your product featured in our 2017 awards you can get in contact with us about a review by following this link here.

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Passionate about helping people make smart leather product purchases

4 Comments

  1. Kendall & Hyde?! Are your kidding me? Those thieves have numerous outstanding orders they haven’t delivered on, many going back months and months. Why would you ever direct your readers to buy from those crooks?

    This isn’t right that you’re directing people to be taken advantage of.

  2. James Hasselman on

    I too can not believe you have Kendal & Hyde on this list. They’re essentially insolvent. And their bags really aren’t that nice. Unbelievable!

  3. I agree that you shouldn’t be directing your readers toward a product that is being sold by Kendal & Hyde, a company that appears to have absconded with over half a million dollars of monies from Kickstarter backers and other funding, and have hundreds if not thousands of outstanding orders that have been paid for – and has now been dissolved by its principal.

    But I fully agree with your review on the product itself. The design and execution of the satchel is outstanding, and superior to most products out there. James’ opinion that their bags “really aren’t that nice” is simply one person’s opinion, but I believe most owners of their bags would agree that they are well-designed and very well built. It has become my own favorite bag, perfect for my needs and wants.

    Perhaps this is the biggest shame of all. That a company with so much potential and such a great track record of making things work and producing awesome product has come to such an abrupt and disappointing end. I wish they would somehow be able to turn things around, make good with their existing backers and customers, and continue doing great things. But I fear that we may have passed the point of no return for K&H.

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